Is reason really the reason for unbelief?


#1

Been thinking about a few encounters we’ve had on the board with some atheists and some Fundamentalists. What I see they have in common is their reliance, not on reason, as they think, but on a willfulness to disbelieve. For some of these people no argument, no matter how well formulated or articulated will sway them.

To me it is akin to saying that since I was not personally present at Mary’s conception or God has never spoken to me I will not believe in the Immaculate Conception or that God exists, respectively.

Or, it’s like being called up as a juror and declaring from the outset that no matter what evidence is presented the accused must be found guilty or innocent depending on one’s beliefs concerning what has been said about the case in the press.

Am I way off here, all persons of good will, or am I on to something? :bowdown2:


#2

[quote=Della]Been thinking about a few encounters we’ve had on the board with some atheists and some Fundamentalists. What I see they have in common is their reliance, not on reason, as they think, but on a willfulness to disbelieve. For some of these people no argument, no matter how well formulated or articulated will sway them.

To me it is akin to saying that since I was not personally present at Mary’s conception or God has never spoken to me I will not believe in the Immaculate Conception or that God exists, respectively.

Or, it’s like being called up as a juror and declaring from the outset that no matter what evidence is presented the accused must be found guilty or innocent depending on one’s beliefs concerning what has been said about the case in the press.

Am I way off here, all persons of good will, or am I on to something? :bowdown2:
[/quote]

This is correct the vast majority of the time. It is rarely reason that is the actual reason (haha) for disbelief. More often then not reason is an excuse that is given because the individual doesn’t want to give something up. Sex and pride I find to be the biggest two obstacles to faith. Many people don’t want to consider faith because they would have to give up their lifestyle sexually. Others, far more than many suspect, simply don’t want to admit that they are ultimately powerless compared to a greater being. These obstacles are usually subtle, however. In other words, the average atheist may have them as obstacles to faith, but does not even realize it him or herself. Similiarly, the average atheist’s use of reason is also not often intentional. It is often a subtle process of his or her mind which convinces even the atheist himself that reason does not permit God.


#3

[quote=Della]Been thinking about a few encounters we’ve had on the board with some atheists and some Fundamentalists. What I see they have in common is their reliance, not on reason, as they think, but on a willfulness to disbelieve. For some of these people no argument, no matter how well formulated or articulated will sway them.

To me it is akin to saying that since I was not personally present at Mary’s conception or God has never spoken to me I will not believe in the Immaculate Conception or that God exists, respectively.

Or, it’s like being called up as a juror and declaring from the outset that no matter what evidence is presented the accused must be found guilty or innocent depending on one’s beliefs concerning what has been said about the case in the press.

Am I way off here, all persons of good will, or am I on to something? :bowdown2:
[/quote]

Most of realize that emotion precedes reason. We feel, want, need, then the intellect kicks in to justify and rationalize. Our beliefs are a big part of our identity. They are physically a part of us. Dropping a long held belief is a little like cutting off a finger. It’s easier for some. The base motivation for skepticism may be strong curiosity, or hostility, but good reason can stand alone and apart from its source. Some ideas are just more defendable than others.

An interesting point about belief is that they don’t come to us spontaneously from nothing. They come primarily from our environment. What our culture exposure is. What would you’re religious ideas be if you were born to a deeply religious family in Pakistan? I would conclude that the source of these beliefs is cultural.


#4

It might interest readers to know that there was a time when the nonexistence of God caused me some distress. I recall thinking that it would be nice to believe in God - that I would prefer a theistic universe - but that the balance of argument prevented me from so believing. These days I am less distressed by this fact; though uncertaintiy regarding morality and the meaning of life remains.

That aside, I think it would definitely help your cause if you could go through some past threads and identify specific instances of the stubbornness you’re accusing atheists of. As it stands, my recollections of some of these threads (such as this one) differ rather significantly from yours.


#5

[quote=EnterTheBowser]It might interest readers to know that there was a time when the nonexistence of God caused me some distress. I recall thinking that it would be nice to believe in God - that I would prefer a theistic universe - but that the balance of argument prevented me from so believing. These days I am less distressed by this fact; though uncertaintiy regarding morality and the meaning of life remains.

That aside, I think it would definitely help your cause if you could go through some past threads and identify specific instances of the stubbornness you’re accusing atheists of. As it stands, my recollections of some of these threads (such as this one) differ rather significantly from yours.
[/quote]

My statements come from rather extensive personal experience with atheists.


#6

Well, what I’m talking about is the refusal to believe the ponderous of evidence merely because one does not want to believe.

It’s true there is a moral element involved for many. As well as environmental influences, (such as being born in a non-Christian society). I’m sure there are non-believers in such societies too, although they may not be free to say so. Also, Jesus himself told us that the age of belief would be greatly corroded in the world as time went on. That some societies will not allow modern ideas about doubt and questioning tells us they have not yet allowed such challenges to their faith, which may be a good thing or not depending on how it would effect their people, which is a topic for another thread.

However, I am not thinking of these types of deliberate non-belief so much as of the kind that will not believe even though they claim reason is their sole reason for unbelief. How can anyone claim to be fair-minded if they will not let evidence convince them unless that evidence be proven to their personal satisfaction, which they do not want satisfied? If you see what I mean. :confused:


#7

[quote=EnterTheBowser]It might interest readers to know that there was a time when the nonexistence of God caused me some distress. I recall thinking that it would be nice to believe in God - that I would prefer a theistic universe - but that the balance of argument prevented me from so believing. These days I am less distressed by this fact; though uncertaintiy regarding morality and the meaning of life remains.
[/quote]

Ladies and Gentlemen, I beleive we have just witnessed the hardening of a heart. I am not poking fun at you, EnterThe Bowser, but I have just added you to my prayer list. It saddens me for you to admit that it caused you some grief when you began to think about God’s exsistance, which I believe was your soul weeping as you turned your back on God.

As for the balance of arguement, if you look for proof the disprove something you do not really want to believe in, then you will find it.

The biggest arguement to faith is the definition of it. Faith is not something you can prove or disprove, it is something you feel and know because it is.

My simple statment that supports the OP’s topic is this: What do you have to loose to believe? If you are right and there is not God, then I will not know because I will be dead and worm food, but atleast I died with Hope! If I am right and you are wrong, your salvation and eternity in hell is at stake! :eek:

Sure you might have to exercise restrain in your daily life, but what else do you have to loose? :confused:


#8

[quote=EnterTheBowser]It might interest readers to know that there was a time when the nonexistence of God caused me some distress. I recall thinking that it would be nice to believe in God - that I would prefer a theistic universe - but that the balance of argument prevented me from so believing. These days I am less distressed by this fact; though uncertaintiy regarding morality and the meaning of life remains.
[/quote]

I think what you are saying is that you are in a process. In reality, we all are, aren’t we? :slight_smile:

That aside, I think it would definitely help your cause if you could go through some past threads and identify specific instances of the stubbornness you’re accusing atheists of. As it stands, my recollections of some of these threads (such as this one) differ rather significantly from yours.

Well, I don’t think all atheists/Fundamentalists are merely stubborn. I know there are a multitude of influences on anyone’s life that can cause both belief and unbelief.

What I am driving at is what I’ve seen in some of these folks, and I do emphasis the word some. It seems that a desire to doubt is placed first on the list instead of a desire to believe. Not a reasonable skepticism, which I think we all should have. But, a “spirit” of doubt that will not allow for belief. Does that make any sense? :tiphat:


#9

[quote=kp1]Ladies and Gentlemen, I beleive we have just witnessed the hardening of a heart. I am not poking fun at you, EnterThe Bowser, but I have just added you to my prayer list. It saddens me for you to admit that it caused you some grief when you began to think about God’s exsistance, which I believe was your soul weeping as you turned your back on God.

As for the balance of arguement, if you look for proof the disprove something you do not really want to believe in, then you will find it.

The biggest arguement to faith is the definition of it. Faith is not something you can prove or disprove, it is something you feel and know because it is.

My simple statment that supports the OP’s topic is this: What do you have to loose to believe? If you are right and there is not God, then I will not know because I will be dead and worm food, but atleast I died with Hope! If I am right and you are wrong, your salvation and eternity in hell is at stake! :eek:

Sure you might have to exercise restrain in your daily life, but what else do you have to loose? :confused:
[/quote]

I can’t agree that ETB is showing evidence of hardening of heart. I think ETB is sorting out a lot of things and finding that what once satisfied about not believing no longer does. I see that as the working of the Holy Spirit. And I join you in prayers for those in that part of their journey to God–one any of us might find ourselves in too, under the right circumstances. :wink:


#10

[quote=kp1]Ladies and Gentlemen, I beleive we have just witnessed the hardening of a heart. I am not poking fun at you, EnterThe Bowser, but I have just added you to my prayer list.


[/quote]

I am about to poke fun at you, but I hope all concerned can take this comment in good humor (it is a joke, after all):

Theist: I’ll pray for you.
Atheist: Then I’ll think for the both of us.

As for the balance of arguement, if you look for proof the disprove something you do not really want to believe in, then you will find it.

The point I was making is that I found the balance of argument to be against God even when I would have preferred a theistic universe.

My simple statment that supports the OP’s topic is this: What do you have to loose to believe? If you are right and there is not God, then I will not know because I will be dead and worm food, but atleast I died with Hope! If I am right and you are wrong, your salvation and eternity in hell is at stake! :eek:

Is this Pascal’s Wager? In the spectrum of positive theistic arguments, this is one of the worst (I’ll freely admit that some such arguments are better than others - in my personal opinion the cosmological argument is one of the trickiest issues in this debate).


#11

[quote=Della]…

What I am driving at is what I’ve seen in some of these folks, and I do emphasis the word some. It seems that a desire to doubt is placed first on the list instead of a desire to believe. Not a reasonable skepticism, which I think we all should have. But, a “spirit” of doubt that will not allow for belief. Does that make any sense? :tiphat:
[/quote]

I can hardly reasonably deny that there are some atheists that are unreasonable in their position. I mean, I could try for some “no true Scotsman” position, but I bet I’d get called on that one. But if we’re having a thread on the issue, it might be nice to see some evidence of the phenomenon you’re describing.


#12

Hi Della, their unbelief is a matter of the heart that we all need to pray for.

You may want to open threads with them with a prayer to seek God’s truth.


#13

Della, you are right on target.

How can anyone claim to be fair-minded if they will not let evidence convince them unless that evidence be proven to their personal satisfaction, which they do not want satisfied?

I’ve talked to many people about the Faith; and no amount or reasoning is going to convince them until their satisfied.

A friend once said that if the Catholic Church’s centralized authority structure were from God; then the Church would be based in Jerusalem, the center of the religious world. That was his criteria, not God’s. He remained evangelical.

An atheist co-worker insists that if God were real, then He must be a cruel jokester, considering all the suffering to go round. God didn’t reach* his* standards of fairness and justice.

And, although I never talked to him, Mahatma Gandhi, the proponent of peace, was once asked why he didn’t become a Christian and follow Christ, the Prince of Peace. He said: I will become a Christian when I see an example of a Christian leading a Christian life.I guess Padre Pio just didn’t measure up for Gandhi.

So, in agreement with your sizing up of the problem, how can we reach these people?


#14

Della, you are right on target.

How can anyone claim to be fair-minded if they will not let evidence convince them unless that evidence be proven to their personal satisfaction, which they do not want satisfied?

I’ve talked to many people about the Faith; and no amount or reasoning is going to convince them until their satisfied.

A friend once said that if the Catholic Church’s centralized authority structure were from God; then the Church would be based in Jerusalem, the center of the religious world. That was his criteria, not God’s. He remained evangelical.

An atheist co-worker insists that if God were real, then He must be a cruel jokester, considering all the suffering to go round. God didn’t reach* his* standards of fairness and justice.

And, although I never talked to him, Mahatma Gandhi, the proponent of peace, was once asked why he didn’t become a Christian and follow Christ, the Prince of Peace. He said: I will become a Christian when I see an example of a Christian leading a Christian life.I guess Padre Pio just didn’t measure up for Gandhi.

So, in agreement with your sizing up of the problem, how can we reach these people?


#15

EnterTheBowser,

You are trying to apply human logic to a being that is beyond the scope of ability of our brains to handle. Obviuosly when you use deduction in something you can not comrehend the answer is always no. Also, it is about control. People who are waist deep into logical, mathematical, or scientifical reasoning have a hard time accepting the concept that somethings just can not be explained or proved by these man made devices. To accept this theory would be to throw out their rational idea of how the world works and that something are just out of their control or explaination. You aslo loose one of the main reason’s Jesus came, to give us hope!

What are you working so hard for if there is nothing in the future to look forward too? I am not trying to cliche, but rational. My in-laws are not very faithful and claim to be torn in the scientific relm. They have no joy in their life as they see their siblings dying off. They tell me that faith is a feel good theory. So, I ask, what are you working for in your life? My MIL struggles with her belief in “if you are not a useful part of society you should be euthenised to stop using up all the resources I am entitled to”. I say struggle as she has retired three times now and is back to work again. She looses her identity and must revaluate her stance she proclaimed to me so many years ago. She can never let go an enjoy life because she had to plan the next move in her life. She has no peace.

This is a sharp change from my family who have much faith, much peace, and much joy. Yes, we have had our share of hard times, my father is permanently disabled, the reasoning for my MIL’s acidic remarks. But my fahter has so much joy in what he does have because he trusts God. My MIL trusts no one but herself and she wakes up at 2 am to clean the bathrooms because she can not have peace in her life!

I pray for my in-laws daily and I hope God will reach them before it is too late!

And as for humor, I probably know more Catholic jokes than years you are old! And I still find them funny! :smiley:


#16

[quote=kp1]EnterTheBowser,

You are trying to apply human logic to a being that is beyond the scope of ability of our brains to handle.
[/quote]

At the moment, I’m happy with the conclusion that athiesm is a rational position, while theism is not. :wink: To tell the truth, trying to justify reason - to win an outside perspective as it were - is something I am interested in, but as of right now, I have no answers.

Obviuosly when you use deduction in something you can not comrehend the answer is always no.

I’m not quite sure what that means…

What are you working so hard for if there is nothing in the future to look forward too?

A friend of mine once said that life is like food. Just because it’s gone when the meal is over doesn’t mean it wasn’t tasty while it lasted. I enjoy being alive - very much - though as I’ve previously admitted, deep questions regarding the meaning of life are questions for which I have no answer (incidentally, I’m reading a book by David Brink on moral realism vs anti-realism that bears strongly on this sort of issue; maybe I’ll have more to say when I’m done with that).

And as for humor, I probably know more Catholic jokes than years you are old! And I still find them funny! :smiley:

Indeed; a sense of humor is always a good thing. If you can’t laugh at yourself, what have you got?


#17

[quote=EnterTheBowser]I can hardly reasonably deny that there are some atheists that are unreasonable in their position. I mean, I could try for some “no true Scotsman” position, but I bet I’d get called on that one. But if we’re having a thread on the issue, it might be nice to see some evidence of the phenomenon you’re describing.
[/quote]

Well, I’m not just thinking of atheists alone here, as I wrote in my OP. Anyone can remain fixed in a position, telling him/herself that they are being reasonable when they are doing nothing of the kind. I’m also speaking from several encounters, not necessarily those on this board at this time (besides, it would be unfair of me to drag anyone by name into the conversation). I’m sure we’ve all seen those who simply will not accept any evidence that may disallow what they want/don’t want to believe–a failing of human nature that isn’t always a matter of character, so no one can judge.

As to the evidence from nature, I see beauty, organization, “programming” in everything. It’s like the universe was and is still being programmed by Someone who has a goal in mind and a reason for everything that we can only understand if we believe that all is for our ultimate good. It takes a bit of faith to come to that conclusion, but there is no real evidence against this conclusion.

You see, I start out with the knowledge that belief is a good thing in and of itself, like rejoicing at the birth of a child even though he may turn out to be a serial killer or looking upon the passing of a saint as a good to be thankful for, knowing that someone has gone before us who believed in and lived according to the virtues faith, hope, and charity.

To doubt out of some principle known only to the doubter seems rather close-minded to me or rather not fair-minded. If we take in all there is and look at it as a cohesive whole, I believe that takes us to belief in God. Not because that will make us happy, but merely because that is the way it is.


#18

EnterBowser- I believe that faith goes *beyond * reason; which doesn’t necessarily make it *contrary * to reason. Does that seem unreasonable to you?


#19

So, in agreement with your sizing up of the problem, how can we reach these people?

I’m tempted to say, “What we are doing here.” And by that I would mean to say–we are doing what we can as we speak.

We are giving them a chance to voice their concerns and needs as we attempt to answer them, all the while praying, as Daniel so rightly suggests, for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and for the grace to speak the truth in love.

We must be patient, kind, and understanding with everyone, of course, but most especially with those who, for one reason or another, feel they must hang onto what they want/don’t want to believe in the very teeth of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.


#20

Della-

I’ve used this analogy before; does this make sense to you?

It’s completely contrary to reason that an anarexic woman can believe they’re too fat. You can show them a mirror. You can give them facts that they’re dying. Loved ones in tears can beg them to eat. But they will not change. Something inside of them honestly believes they’re overweight; and nothing in heaven or on earth can change an individual spirit’s decision to believe something.

That decision comes *before * our reasoning. It comes deep down in our emotions/spirit/soul.


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